Firms must keep CSR policies out of the spotlight

HR should be pushing responsible business, but companies should keep their
codes of practice to themselves if they want to avoid criticism, according to
an expert on corporate social responsibility (CSR).

Alan Wild, managing partner at Aritake-Wild, said HR must look beyond using
CSR for recruitment, motivation and retention of staff. He warned that
companies who instigate high-profile CSR policies would find themselves the key
targets for critical scrutiny, despite having higher standards than other

"Get your internal house correct and don’t brag about it," Wild
said. "If you run high-visibility value policies, you will be held

He noted that the higher the perception of quality a brand held, the greater
the public’s expectation would be of responsible practice right through the
supply chain.

A recent MORI poll showed that when forming a decision about a product or
service, almost half of customers said it was very important to them that a
company showed a high degree of CSR, compared to only 28 per cent in 1998.

As customers become ever more concerned about HR issues, Wild said HR would
need to look ‘beyond the factory gates’, right down the supply chain, and
re-evaluate everyone who the public might term ‘an employee’.

He highlighted media coverage of child labour in cocoa plantations in West
Africa, which had damaged the reputation of Nestlé, and allegations that Nike
used sweatshops to manufacture its products.

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